Guangdong to bolster growth with rural resources
By Cai Cai (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-12 15:38

Guangdong province in south China has pledged to invest more than 40 billion yuan ($5.86 billion) to build infrastructure projects in the province's rural areas before 2012.

The projects include transportation, energy supply, telecommunications, water conservation and scientific innovation.

The move aims to further improve the investment climate in the province's western, eastern and northern regions where economic development lags far behind Pearl River Delta (PRD) cities.

According to Guangdong's development plan, the province's mountainous areas will be the main regions for the push in economic development.

Huang Huahua, governor of Guangdong, also vowed to give top priority to the province's rural areas in attracting offshore investment and seeking foreign economic cooperation.

Huang urged departments and cities in his province to work on expanding cooperation and further improving their infrastructure to meet development needs.

"The province's rural areas in particular rely heavily on infrastructure and facilities to attract foreign investment as the province lacks natural resources, raw materials and energy to support its economic development, " Huang said.

To help smaller cities and counties develop, Guangdong's provincial government has moved labor-intensive industries from the PRD further inland. Workers from less-developed areas will be encouraged to work in manufacturing and service industries or find employment elsewhere in the PRD.

The strategy, known as "double transfer", will benefit both the province's rural areas and the PRD region, Huang told a work conference in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, early this year.

PRD cities will now focus on developing hi-tech, finance, logistics, trade, information, telecommunication and service industries after labor-intensive industries move to the province's rural areas.

The approach is crucial to maintaining Guangdong's growth, especially in boosting the province's rural economy, Huang said.

"Guangdong's modernization target will not be reached if the province's rural economy can not develop at a faster pace," Huang said, noting many rural business opportunities have already been created.

The province bordering Hong Kong and Macao is currently accelerating construction of 28 industrial development zones in the rural areas, providing many investment and business opportunities to both domestic and overseas investors.

In addition to industrial transfers from the prosperous PRD, the industrial development zones are tasked with taking bolder steps in luring overseas investment.

With the construction of the industrial development zones, Guangdong's western, eastern and northern areas will become the province's new production bases that will play an increasingly important role in its economic growth in the following years.

Industrial zones linked to all PRD cities and neighboring Hong Kong and Macao by an advanced road network will reach an annual industrial output value of more than 300 billion yuan this year, the governor said.

Local governments in the rural areas have promised to encourage foreign businesses to invest in the rural industrial zones, which have abundant land, natural resources and skilled workers, offer preferential policies in land-use rights, taxes and trade, and grant business certificates and loans.

The Guangdong governor has also promised to further expand investment in infrastructure facilities to further improve the investment environment.

Prosperous Pearl River Delta cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Huizhou have signed contracts to construct more than 386 projects with an investment of 22.8 billion yuan in the 28 industrial zones in the cities of Zhaoqing, Yunfu, Meizhou, Shaoguan, Qingyuan, Jieyang, Chaozhou and Heyuan in northern, eastern and western parts of Guangdong.

The zones employed more than 210,000 people by the end of July.

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